ULTIM CHALLENGE – Brest – The pressure starts to build !

Starting off Brest, France on January 7th six Ultim skippers will set out to make history by competing in the first solo multihull race around the world

On Wednesday evening in Paris all of the skippers mustered at the Workshop des Lumières in the heart of the capital, meeting up with all the major partners of the race and being presented to the media.
It was a unique immersive experience which really highlighted the incredible challenge which is in store for these six exceptional sailors.
The venue itself is an appropriately breathtaking setting. In the heart of an old foundry, dating from 1835, the Atelier des Lumières hosts digital, immersive and contemporary exhibitions.
And so it was a perfect setting in which to take the guests into the rarefied world of what lies at the very heart of one of the most fascinating sporting events of the 21st century: the ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE – Brest.
The amazing, mind blowing images of the giant Ultim multihulls flying fast on the open sea, of oceanic storms which are a reminder of hard it can be to control and  manoeuvre such enormous machines. The immersive images and sounds, and the words from the skippers, really inspired the media who turned out in force.

Right now it’s a waiting game….

All the the skippers who will compete in the race were present. Armel Le Cléac’h (Maxi Banque Populaire XI), winner of the recent Transat Jacques Vabre, Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild), winner of the last Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe, Thomas Coville (Sodebo Ultim 3) who who has attempted to circumnavigate the world solo on a multihull six times, all spoke of their enthusiasm and their experience.
So too did Tom Laperche (SVR – Lazartigue) who benefits from the advice of François Gabart,
Anthony Marchand (Actual Ultim 3), who is the successor to Yves Le Blevec, and Éric Péron (Adagio) who only joined the adventure last September.
The evening proved a great platform to highlight the commitment of all the partners of the race, in particular title partner, Crédit Mutuel Arkéa, as well as main partners, Brest metropolis and the City of Brest, “the port of maritime records”, Brittany Region and the Department of Finistère.

And so everyone present enjoyed the evening, sharing time together in anticipation of sharing the opening of the race village on the Quai Malbert in Brest, on December 29, and on the big start, January 7, 2024.


Edouard Coudurier, Chairman of the Télégramme Group :
“The time has come. Generations of sailors have dreamt of competing in this: the first solo non-stop multihull race around the world, an exceptional event. In the Télégramme Group, we have been dreaming of this for twenty years, when the idea first took root in the minds of Roland Tresca, Assistant Managing Director and Chairman of Pen Duick, and Pierre Bojic, Managing Director of Pen Duick. It took years of work for this project to take shape, thanks to the work done in our subsidiary company, OC Sport Pen Duick with all those involved, starting with the Ultim Class, the City of Brest and the Crédit Mutuel Arkéa Group, the headline partner. We are of course all very proud that this dream will become reality on 7th January in Brest. Before that, we will all get together, the whole of the area around Brest and Brittany, to discover and celebrate the giants that will be moored up on Malbert Quay during the ten days the Village is open in the commercial harbour from Friday 29th December 2023. On 7th January, the sailors will set sail to open this new chapter in the history of solo round the world sailing.”

Joseph Bizard, Managing Director of OC Sport Pen Duick :
“The ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE – Brest is an exceptional event and a huge sporting challenge. We wanted to bring as many boats together as possible to enable the general public and the sailors to meet up. We have set up a village that aims to show the public just how amazing these sailors and boats are and how this challenge is a historical event. There will also be events organised by all our partners, starting with Arkéa, the Brest Metropolitan Authority, the Region of Brittany and the Finistère department. It will be an occasion for people to celebrate with festivities and a popular event, beginning on 29th December with the arrival of the boats and a major maritime and sporting festival before the start on 7th January.”

Guillaume Rottée, Race Director :
“This is a round the world voyage, which is never an easy affair. On top of that, it will be taking place aboard 32m long boats. Thanks to the wealth of experience we have acquired from organising other events, this ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE – Brest marks the start of a story, so we wanted to make the arrival of the boats in the harbour on 29th December to be a true show, as they make their way into the Brest inlet and cross Brest Roads. Then, the same in the other direction on the day of the start. There are several unique features about this race, which is based on a relatively classic formula:  all of the sailors will have the right to carry out pit stops, as this can be a safety matter, but it may handicap them in terms of performance, as a stopover will have to last at least 24 hours. In addition to that, there are certain cetacean exclusion zones that have been set up in collaboration with a team of scientists from Share the Ocean to avoid collisions with marine animals. With the start scheduled for 7th January, I would imagine around fifty days to sail around the world. But these boats have the potential to beat the record, which is currently 42 days.”

Charles Caudrelier, skipper of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild :
“Competing in this round the world race was Cyril Dardasthi’s idea and he managed to share this vision with our owner. I never thought that one day I would fly, but these boats are really crazy. When you find yourself completely alone, the major challenge is taking care of yourself and the boat. It’s going to be fascinating and I’m pleased to be here. When I started sailing, two things inspired me – round the world records and the Vendée Globe. I haven’t been able to do them both until now, but it feels like I’m doing both of them together here.”

Thomas Coville, skipper of Sodebo Ultim 3 :
“There will be six of us on the start line. This will be different for me, because until now, the round the world voyages I have completed were solo, but with the aim of attempting to break a record. When you set off on a record attempt, journalists talk to you about a race, and when you take part in races, people talk about records. The six of us will be sharing this event. It is the start of a story and will leave its mark on our sport. Our race area is the whole planet. Our boats will enable us to fly, which may not have been the idea in the beginning, but that can happen today. This race is different from all the others. When you set out to tackle such a mountainous task, you have to remain modest and humble. Each of us taking part will be making the most of our own previous experiences, but there is no room here for any sham. That is why I am back here again.”

Tom Laperche, skipper of SVR – Lazartigue :
“We returned last Thursday from the delivery trip back home after the Transat Jacques Vabre and when we inspected the boat, we discovered a weakness in the forward crossbeam that we are going to have to repair. It’s going to be a race against the clock to be at the start, but everyone is working hard, which is reassuring and I have full confidence in the team taking care of the boat. I am very pleased to be here. Sailing on this multihull would have been considered like being in a dream world not that long ago. I have pictures in my mind of boats flying ever since I was small. Some of these got me dreaming when I was a child and that explains why I am here at the start.”

Armel Le Cléac’h, skipper of the Maxi Banque Populaire XI :
“We knew we would be going straight from the Transat Jacques Vabre to this round the world race and knew it was going to be very intense, but the team is hard at work. The boat is back and being thoroughly inspected in Lorient. I’m trying to recover from all the effort in the Transat and am looking ahead to the round the world voyage. This is going to be a marathon, so a very different situation from the Atlantic crossings, which are more like sprints. In a round the world voyage, managing things throughout is going to be key. We are going to look after the boat and take care of ourselves; physically and mentally, it is going to be very intense. We are going to have to place the cursor at just the right place. I have taken part in three monohull races around the world, but never on a multihull. This is not a completely blank sheet for us, but knowing how hard to push is the unknown factor.”

Anthony Marchand, skipper of Actual Ultim 3 :
“I don’t really want to listen to all the superlatives used when talking about this race. I need to be able to set sail, as if it was a training session or any other race, even if I know that this is, of course, an extraordinary race. I don’t want to stand back and think about it too much. So many things are going to happen and I can’t wait to discover them, whether we are looking at moments of joy or misfortune. We are going to have to switch rapidly from the Transat Jacques Vabre to this round the world race and we need to get some rest physically and mentally. You can have the impression that you have recovered physically, but you also need mentally to rest to find that desire again to get out there and sail around the world.”

Éric Péron, skipper on Adagio :
“The race against the clock began for me a short while ago. Starting out on a project like this so late on was our first mountain to climb. I’m lucky to have a boat that has already sailed around the world. She knows her way and has been very well prepared. This was only doable for me on this boat. On the qualifying trip, I got to grips with her and in just a few hours, it felt like I had known her forever.”



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